A W.Virginia motel - 10:53 PM
Assistant Director Skinner locked the door securely and sat down on the dirty bed wishing Agent Mulder next door would turn down his blaring TV. He was meditating on how cold, boring and uneventful the whole day had been when his keen ears picked up the sound of padded footsteps outside.
The tread was light; too light to be natural, and obviously whoever it was, was taking care to make as little sound as possible. Very suspicious.
Pulling out his gun, Skinner moved swiftly towards the door, drew in a deep breath and unlatched it soundlessly. It swung open freely.
The moment the ray of light from his room escaped into the chilly, black, night air, the furtive prowler started; he jumped up, swinging round in surprise and stared at Skinner in absolute horror for a split second before attempting to dart off into the night.
It was the most predictable thing to do and if Skinner was put off by the prowler's identity, it didn't delay his reaction - he bounded after the man and tackled him around the waist, bringing them both crashing forcefully onto the cold concrete.
Alex Krycek cried out in pain as his body connected with the hard floor - the added strain of Skinner's weight not only winded him effectively, but also made him want to yell out in sore anger. Iron fingers dug into his jaw, warm palm over his mouth; Alex writhed and bucked, desperately hoping to unsettle an attacker 3 times his size, but instantly froze as the icy, solid barrel of a gun ... an FBI issued Sig Sauer, was pressed firmly against his temple.
Alex remained motionless save for anaerobic panting and a heartbeat run wild. He concentrated on willing himself to calm down, willing his erratic pulse back into the norm... he waited.
Gradually, Skinner loosened his grip over the young man's mouth, and let his hands slide down his neck - enjoying the quiver of the skin under his icy touch - to his shoulders where he once more dug them in sharply and shifting his own weight, pulled the killer to his knees.
Alex drew in cold air sharply, but fought back the urge to groan - one couldn't forget the gun, no, not a good idea. On his knees, he stared straight ahead into the black. Just like an execution, he couldn't help thinking with a light shudder, but then the absence of the gun hinted for him to rise. He did so, and turned to face the angry man.
Skinner looked carefully at his young enemy. No longer in Armani, but back to the old leather and well worn denim. Yes, the man looked shaken, but more surprised - not good enough. His pupils, albeit dilated with the adrenalin rush of last action, remained steadily fixed on him - the sea of green around them conveyed unease, but no fear - definitely not good enough! The sinfully long lashes of the man didn't flutter or even waver lightly. His whole face was a sculpture of white marble; tense but in control, no particular emotion detectible.
In a lightening move, Skinner snatched out and grabbed a fistful of ebony hair, using his momentum to hurl Krycek through his still open door. No choice given, Alex stumbled in clumsily, falling to the floor, onto his hands and knees. "Fuck" he hissed so much at the whole situation as at himself and his apparent inability to look after himself properly.
Never forgetting Skinner's gun, Alex remained immobile and listened with racing pulse as the door slammed shut and the TV was switched on. He was thinking strategy. He had a gun in an awkwardly placed leg holster and didn't intend to waste any potential moment of distraction, but right now he felt frozen in place, like a rabbit caught in the flare of headlights.
Skinner's voice was so calm, so cold, it unnerved Alex. "Get up." Not unlike a puppet, Alex scrambled hastily to his feet and glared into shallow brown flecks.
"Where is the dial?"
... "Where is it, boy?" The crease at the bridge of Alex's nose deepened noticeably at the word 'boy', then his lips curled into a cruel smile as he seemed to make up his mind.
"I can turn it at anytime you know!" Wrong answer. He had forgotten his ex-boss' fist of steel and went down with a loud "oompf" and an angry flashback of a previous similar situation.
"Don't fuck with me!" Skinner warned darkly, watching Alex gasp for the necessary air desperately. The young man's eyes had pitched to dark ocean shade.
"I said: anytime Mr Skinner" he hissed through pants and despite himself, the AD grimaced, memories of the nanites playing in his blood, constricting his veins, ending his life... all too fresh and lifelike.
"Not now you can't," he snarled and lunged at the 'boy'.
Alex dodged agily and jumped back, almost losing his balance onto the bed, but catching it rapidly and reaching for the hidden gun.
A high kick in the arm, then a knee in the ribs and Alex fell back with a yelp of agony. "Getting slow?" A mocking voice drawled, not without a certain glee. Skinner stooped over to remove the firearm from the man's reach and observed him clutch his arm a while. "Slow... predictable and very very stupid!" His own aim had never wavered. Alex almost bared his teeth and rolled onto his side on the bed to ease the pressure on bruised ribs.
Skinner threw aside both guns and leapt onto Alex, sitting on his lower abdomen, pinning him to the bed. Pure hate and defiance met him, the pain pushed into another realm, not to be thought of nor dealt with till later.
"Whenever, wherever," he whispered and drew back a little as his captor drew strong fingers through his silky eyebrow length hair. They moved slowly, but not gently onto the smooth palour of his face, along the high cheekbone and down his jaw towards the parted red lips.
A single finger entered Alex's mouth and he immediately twisted away, but not before something bitter made its presence felt on his tongue. A pill. Alex spat, but it had already dissolved. Panic stricken he bucked wildly, eyes darting around for a chance of escape. Nothing. His eyes burnt into Skinner's face and finally, with a contented smirk, the bigger man pushed himself off Alex and off the bed.
Alex knew he didn't stand a chance against Skinner in his condition, but he sure as hell was going to give it his best; he sprung into a defensive crouch, wishing Skinner would wipe that indulgent half- smile off his face. That leering monster-like grimace, that - Alex's blood run cold. "You bastard!" he blinked, saw Skinner move towards him but was unable to move, even as the strong hold swung him round and launched him full face into the plaster wall. Alex thought he would go through it, so forceful was the slam, but it held and he sunk down, still blinking wildly.
Behind him Skinner twisted strands of hair around his fingers. "Krycek. You don't look too good..." Alex wrenched free, a queasy, unfamiliar feeling in the pit of his stomach. Fear. Skinner crouched down behind him and whispered into his ear. "Alex? What's wrong?" With a roar, the killer lashed out with a leg, swiping Skinner off his balance - the moment didn't last as a wave of dizziness overtook him and he leant against the wall for support. Skinner chuckled. "You can go if you like. Leave before I do anything unworthy of an AD of the FBI." Alex licked his lower lip. His mind understood but his body was on another planet.
"You bastard," he repeated as though the words could give him strength. He let his knees buckle again and started crawling towards the table where his gun lay. Skinner watched, unseen by Krycek, his bemusement was obvious. Finally the rat on its knees... delicious!
Finally, Alex reached out to pick his gun off the table. He was still furiously blinking, as though that could bring some sense into the situation. Before his fingers touched the metal he was horrified to see them tremble.
"Shit." He clenched his hand into a fist, wishing it to stop. The tremor ran up his arm as he swore a continuous whispered stream of Russian expletives. Somewhere, as if in a dream, he heard the sound of Skinner's chuckle. He squeezed his eyes shut against the rising panic in his chest.
"Alex?" That voice again! So faraway!
He opened his eyes, surprised he hadn't heard Skinner move up beside him. "Are you alright, Krycek?"
He swallowed nervously. "Sure."
"You don't look so good."
Alex turned, keeping his eyes on the floor, not wanting to see a reaction. "My hand hurts"... why am I even talking to him?... "I think its..." he stared up at Skinner helplessly and Skinner nodded.
"The pill I gave you?" Alex nodded feebly. "Indeed. Your hand hurts, your arm, your legs, then you go into spasms, harsh, painful contractions. Finally your blood boils, your hazy mind fades away, your already blurred vision blanks out and then your eyes close... forever, Alex."
Alex laughed tensely. "You bastard" he hissed for the third time, face contracted in pain, limbs in an uncontrolled fit of trembling.
Skinner looked down modestly. "Of course, I have an antidote. Where is the dial?" Gathering all his courage and cocky arrogance, Alex resolutely turned his head away - his reputed method of evading a conversation.
"40 minutes, Agent Krycek." Skinner stressed on the 'Agent' but Alex didn't react.
"See you in hell then" he whispered through spasms. He heard an angry snort and footsteps. Moments later he realized Skinner was gone for good. 40 minutes? A wave of anguish hit him - he didn't want to die! He had always thought he would catch a bullet, or even be beaten to oblivion! But this? 40 minutes of suffering to an inevitable end? He growled, then whimpered and drew his quivering limbs together in order to curl up and wait for the excruciating pain.
Pain didn't scare him. 40 minutes of solitude with a clear mind and alienated body did. Yet he never thought of trying again to reach for his gun and accelerating things. Krycek was a survivor. These things simply didn't cross his mind. So he lay in foetal position, trembling in spasms, his green eyes wide open, but dull. And he waited for the end.
Mulder yawned noisily and wished that his boss next door would finally turn his blaring TV down a little. The western flick on the other side of the light plaster wall was making the very foundations of the motel rumble with every cracking gunshot. At least Skinner had stopped attempting to refurbish his room, Mulder thought wrily. The racket earlier on had really been most remarkable!
There was a knock on the door and peering through the peephole, Mulder's lips curled into a childish and gleeful grin.
"Come in!" he shouted out and at the same time bunched his hair into pigtails with his hands. As Scully entered, she was confronted with the sight of her partner bending his knees and suddenly launching himself vertically upwards dynamically. He then pranced around the small room bellowing, "Oops I did it again, I played with your heart, got lost in my game..."
Scully stood jaw-locked as she attempted to blink herself back to the real world. "I'm not that innocent!" Mulder twirled round dramatically a couple of times before finally coming to a curtsey-standstill. His eyes gleamed with a wild, insane, relish. "Vou dayziray?" he asked, bowing low.
Scully shook her head with a mock-frown, looking down to hide her bemusement. "I was hoping Skinner's TV would be a little less loud in here, but I guess..." She trailed off as John Wayne informed some rogue that the town was too small for the two of them. Resuming a serious face, she convinced Mulder to check out the cause of Skinner's, very much out of character, peace disturbing with her.
After repetetive knocking and shouting, the fun and giggles of a few moments before were all but forgotten and had given place to grim-faced concern.
Unholstering their guns, they stood on each side of Skinner's door and nodded - they were ready.
Alex Krycek vaguely heard the door being opened. His body was in a foetal position, curled up as tightly as possible, but wracked in sharp convulsions. At first he had jerked, as though through an electric jolt, at each seizure; but his response to them was getting weaker each moment now, and by the time the agents had entered, he was shuddering with sweat; each and every cell was on fire, trying to turn him inside out mercilessly.
"Mulder" he mumbled feebly, cracked lips barely moving, eyelids flickering in automatic movement over glazed eyes.
With a final laboured exhalation, Alex gave way to the rippeling wave of agony that had apparently replaced his outer shell; he let his mind shut down, away from the misery of suffering.
Mulder was there...
A West Virginia hospital, 11:32 pm.
Scully was worried and bewildered - she couldn't understand why her partner was so tense and anxious! Surely Alex Krycek, notorious traitor, assassin and backstabbing sonofabitch par excellence had brought nothing but desolation into their lives? Now, Mulder sat completely still, face drawn and staring at that emergency room as though his own life depended on it.
"Mulder?" His ashen face turned to her. "He'll be OK, won't he? I mean he won't just die, not like this!" His voice was closeto breaking and he turned away again, knowing Scully couldn't understand. She didn't see a fighter of the future in the killer on the operation table, she didn't realise how important this man was!... and just how much he meant to Mulder...
But if there were many things Scully couldn't figure out, the one thing she was certain of was that her best friend was suffering badly and that he needed her. She got up and slid her arms aroundhim gently, pulling his limp form tightly against her. Mulder fell into the embrace gratefully.
"Get your filthy paws off my Fox!" A frenzied British voice screeched out of the blue into the anguished silence of the emergency ward. Two faces turned to see a good-looking tall lady with short cropped black hair rushing towards them. Mulder groaned inwardly.
"What the hell are you doing here, Phoebe?" The woman put her hands on her hips. "Well actually, that's none of your business" she dismissed Mulder and glared at Agent Scully fiercely. "Let go of him!"
"How dare you speak to me like that?" Scully demanded, voice heightening dangerously. Phoebe Greene wasn't put off in the least. "You have some guts! He's mine, you know! Always has been, always will be." Mulder bit down a sob of dispair and fled to the other end of the corridor.
Scully and Phoebe faced each other in fury. Redhead versus brunette. "And..." Phoebe was about to explode again, when Scully simply slapped her.
"Shut up and get out." Phoebe's jaw dropped an inch. Instinctively, she moved forwards and pulled Scully's long auburn strands. In about the space of a second, it all escalated into a fully-fledged catfight. Tearing, pulling, scratching and not just a little screaming, the two women clawed at each other mindlessly.
"Ladies! Dr Scully!" an alarmed doctor tried to intervene, but they had eyes and ears of hate but for each other and paid no heed. The little man looked around nervously: already grieving families were watching with striken faces and red eyes. He gulped. "Dr Scully, please... Dr Scully! I'm going to have to ask you both to leave now!" His tone was adamant and jolted the two women back into reality. Shame-faced, they trailed out, avoiding eye-contact with anyone.
Mulder sighed with relief and resumed his post outside Krycek's room. This whole day was turning into something quite surreal! It was only a bloody hug! Shaking Phoebe Greene from his mind, he returned his gaze of misery to the little blue door.
"Agent Mulder?" His eyes snapped open at the soft voice. It took him a moment to remember where he was, then, when it sank in, he jumped to his feet. "Is he...?" The nurse smiled kindly. "You may speak to him if you wish - his condition is stable." Mulder's heart tried to propulse itself through his flesh in a burst of joyful relief. He fairly ran past the nurseand into the room.
Alex lay on his back, nasty bruises stood out vividly on his ghostly pale skin. His eyes seemed translucid as he stared blankly at the ceiling.
"Krycek?" The head turned towards Mulder. "Thanks" he murmured automatically. Mulder shrugged it off. "You didn't look too good" he quipped, then regretted it instantly as Alex flinched.
"You saved my life." His voice was weak, but his mind obviously clear. They stared at each other; each man's heart beating for the other only, and neither knowing it. Alex closed his eyes and Mulder could make out each eyelash like a feather over swollen skin. "I thought it really was over." Alex suddenly stated in a reflecting tone.
"I thought... I always thought I knew everything about pain, but knowing it's going to escalate until the hurt itself kills you...! I never even dared imagine it."
"I'll look after you!" Mulder suddenly blurted out, almost interrupting him. Alex's eyes forced themselves open for a split-second, expressing his surprise. His skin flushed a little. "I can look after myself."
"Not for a while!" Mulder insisted, words too rushed to sound natural anymore. "Why?" Alex wanted to know, making Mulder shrug. "Doctors orders" he tried lamely. Alex had to smile at this. "But I've hurt you so much, I..." he blushed - a rare occasion brought on by his momentary vulnerability. "... I can look after myself" he finally repeated in a final tone. It was more to convince himself than anything else.
Mulder stepped closer; he was trembling badly inside. Seeing Alex dying on the floor had made long repressed emotions flood back in a rush - he simply couldn't lose him!
"Alex?"... "What?" Alex snapped warily. "Tomorrow, you're coming with me. You can't look after yourself! You need me... Unlessyou have some other *loving* relative you'd like us to contact." The stress wason 'loving'. A cruel touch that made Alex both blush and wince at the same time.
Only you, he thought sadly, but stayed mute - it was simply out of the question! --------- Alexandria - Mulder's apartment, 08:15 am.
In the end, Krycek was given no choice in the matter, and he stood in Mulder's hallway, feeling more out of place than heever had.
Today, there were no guns, threats or harsh words in the air. It was a novelty they both welcomed... albeit a little uneasily.
"You have the bedroom" Mulder ordered, ushering the slender man through his home. He knew Alex was very ill at ease accepting his help and intended to convince his ex-nemesis he wanted this truce to be permanent.
"Where will you sleep?" "Are you that badly informed?" Alex cast a quick look at the old couch and smiled unexpectedly, making his entire face light up beautifully. "No, but..." his face became dark and void of emotion once again. "But?" Mulder prompted, his hands moist and throat like sandpaper.
"But... I... oh" Alex faltered completely and stopped to breathe deeply. "I thought, if you... want... then... you could." Mulder feared he was about to suffocate. "I... oh, gosh, Alex, I just might!" he exclaimed.
For the first time in seven years, it was not anger nor revenge that burnt between them, but understanding... affection... love?
"I can't lose you" Mulder sighed.
Alex stepped closer. "You won't have to" he promised and dipped his head forward to catch Mulder's pouting lips with his own mouth. His hand moved up to flick away a stray strand of chestnut hair. His touch was softer and more caring than Mulder had imagined in his most tender dreams. "Why did we wait so long?" he gasped and Alex gave him that melting smile again. "Because any other times you probably would have killed me yourself." So true.
"I'd have killed you only to deny my feelings!" Alex laughed softly. "You're the psychologist, I am but a humble spy." He worked on the kiss with his tongue, letting it explore the FBI agent's mouth freely.
It took them quite a while to disentangle themselves, but in the end it was Alex who stepped back first. "And a trecherous spy I shall always be" he said hesitantly, fearing Mulder had forgotten whohe was in his passion. Mulder chuckled in near-delight. "You and you only are the one I want!" A guttural moan escaped his abandoned lips and he threw himself onto the convalescent man.
"Oh Alex!" They fell to the floor together, hands roaming and tongues hungry. Alex was surprised at the trust he could musteras he enjoyed the feeling of Mulder pinning him down. For once, survival instinct screamed "Stay!"
Mulder ran his hands under Alex's t-shirt and let his fingers glide gently over prominent ribs. The young man's face contorted with pain and his eyes clouded over as he unconsciously drew in a sharp intake of breath.
Mulder rolled off him, stroking his fine jaw he promised: "We'll take it slow." Alex managed a small smile through the veilof pain. Mulder sounded so guilty!
"Hey Agent Mulder?" he grabbed the hand carressing his face and kissed the knuckles adoringly. "... I love you!"
Alex's eyes snapped open - senses instantly alert. The room was pitch black and he could hear Mulder's peacefully sleeping form reassuringly beside him. But something was wrong!
The slightest creak of a floorboard made him sit up straight, his hand subconsciously moving under the pillow. No gun. Shit shit shit! He shook Mulder. "We have company!" he hissed and quickly silenced his lover's groggy mumble. "Where's your gun?" The intruder was getting steadily closer to the bedroom and the panic was rising fast. He slapped Mulder's cheek and this time it had the desired wakening effect. "On my nightstand" the FBI man whispered and fumbled round urgently.
Suddenly the bedroom door was kicked in savagely, bright light flooded in, blinding the lovers. Alex squinted and saw the intruder's semi-automatic pointed straight at them! "Mulder! Shoot him!" he yelled.
Clunk. Two shots in the dark. Thwack. Thud.
"Mulder?" Alex ventured shakily, a huge ball of fear constricting his throat painfully, distorting his usually husky tone pathetically. "Alex." Mulder's monotone drawl confirmed and the young man almost fainted with relief. He blinked back a tear. "I thought... oh fuck - so close!" The reference was to the bulletholes not that far above their heads.
Why didn't you shoot?" he asked. Mulder reddened and leant over the side of the bed, feeling around. He drew his hand up with the object of his search. "I... euh... dropped this!" Alex let out a faint exclamation of amazement. In his profession, gun-dropping just didn't happen! "Oh Mulder!" He remembered Mulder has made a habit of it in his early days as a field agent and laid a warm hand on the man's burning cheek. They both looked towards the door, where the intruder lay stone-dead - Alex's bedside lamp neatly impaled in his heart.
Mulder flinched. "Baby." They sat in silence, hands clenched together under the covers. Alex thinking with a little worry aboutwhat life would be like looking after Fox and Fox thinking with pleasure about life with an international backstabbing rat. They smiled at each other lovingly and sighed.
And they lived happily ever after.